Newsletter: March 2007

Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod Proclaimed 30th Chief.

The Management Council of the Associated Clan MacLeod Societies met in Edinburgh on 17th February 2007. Amongst other business the following Resolution was proposed, seconded and passed unanimously:

?The Associated Clan Macleod Societies comprising the Clan MacLeod Societies of Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, New Zealand, the Republic of South Africa, Scotland and the United States of America do recognise, acknowledge, acclaim and welcome Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod as 30th Chief of Clan MacLeod and of the whole name.?

The President of ACMS, Dr Malcolm Macleod, OBE, forwarded a copy of this Resolution to Lord Lyon. He said: ?The last few weeks have been full of mixed emotions for the Clan and particularly for the family of the late Chief John. We mourn the passing of Chief John. He was a wonderful man; intelligent, warm-hearted, accessible, shrewd, international and a true friend, who embodied the virtues of a modern Chief. His son Hugh is a worthy heir and successor and the Clan MacLeod Societies welcome him with acclaim as Chief Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, 30th Chief of the Clan MacLeod.?

Hugh Magnus MacLeod of MacLeod was born in London on 24th July 1973 to Melita Kolin, second wife of John MacLeod of MacLeod. Hugh is married to Frederica and has a son Vincent, born in 2000.

Hugh has a sister Elena, a barrister in London, and half-brother Stefan MacLeod who is a singer in Switzerland.

At the Gates of Dunvegan Castle

John MacLeod of MacLeod, 29th Chief of Clan MacLeod. 1935-2007

Chief John died, after a short illness, in London on 12th February 2007.

John Wolridge Gordon was born at Ellon, on 10th August 1935, the second son and elder of twins, of Robert Wolrige Gordon of Hallhead and Esslemont, Aberdeenshire, and Joan Walter, younger daughter of Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod, 28th Chief of Clan MacLeod.

John was educated at Eton College, Windsor and, on his 16th birthday, was chosen as his grandmother?s heir, changed his name and was recognised by Decree of Lyon Court as John MacLeod of MacLeod, the Younger. John?s father had decreed in his will that who ever succeeded to Esslemont should not also succeed to Dunvegan and John elder brother, Robert, had decided to take his father?s Esslemont estate.

John served for two years in the Black Watch ? his ancestor had raised a Second battalion in 1776 ? and was in Kenya. He then studied at McGill University in Canada where his interest in acting led him to return to study drama at the London Academy of Music and Drama. He became a professional actor and singer.

In 1965 his grandmother, Dame Flora, conveyed Dunvegan Castle and the MacLeod Estate to John and he began to run the Estate and took the decision to market Dunvegan Castle as a tourist destination. The Castle received 33,000 visitors a year in 1965, when he took over its management. Ten years later there were 66,000 visitors a year and this rose

to 144,000 in 1996 but has fallen back to about 100,000 a year. In 1971 John employed 14 people on the Estate and this rose to 33 by 1977 and has since more than doubled, so that the MacLeods Estate is the largest employer in North West Skye.

But though Chief John achieved economic viability on the Estate, bringing the management of the Estate to Dunvegan; opening shops and a restaurant, he realised that the Estate would never generate enough funds to pay for long term and much needed repairs to the Castle. Chief John?s imaginative scheme to sell the Black Cuillins to raise money for repairing the Castle met with condemnation and he modified his plans, entering into negotiations to gift the Black Cuillins to the nation in return for financial assistance from Government to help repair the Castle. An application to the Lottery Fund was not successful, Chief John was deeply concerned about the future of the Castle and was in consultation with historic and local government bodies about its future right up to the time of his death.

Chief John travelled with his grandmother and twin brother, Patrick, to North America in the early 1950s. For his 21st birthday, in 1956, Dame Flora called together the first world gathering of Macleods, which she called the MacLeod Parliament. The Queen and Prince Philip visited Dunvegan castle and it was on this occasion that John was challenged to quaff Sir Rory Mor?s Horn, filled with claret wine, without either ?setting down or falling down.? He attended later Parliaments whenever he could.

Chief John married Drusilla Shaw, the daughter of the actor Sebastian Shaw. There were no children and the marriage was dissolved in 1971. In 1973 Chief John married Melita Kolin, a concert pianist born in Bulgaria. On 24th July 1973 their son Hugh Magnus was born and on 11th January 1977 their daughter Elena. Chief John had another son, Stefan MacLeod, born in 1971.

On the death of Dame Flora, in November 1976, John became 29th Chief of Clan MacLeod. He attended his first Clan Parliament, as Chief, in 1978 and was the lynch pin of the next eight Parliaments. For several summers in the 1980s, he ran a Classical Music Festival at the Castle but in 1993 his second marriage to Melita Kolin was dissolved.

At the Parliament in 1994, Chief John?s son, Hugh Magnus celebrated his 21st birthday and was accepted as heir to his father and the clan was introduced to Chief John?s other son, Stefan, a successful singer in Switzerland and Germany.

Chief John began to travel widely and visited MacLeods in Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand; France and Germany. A week after Chief John?s third marriage to Ulrika Tham, he travelled to South Africa.

Chief John was a wonderfully relaxed and approachable person. He had the ability to meet people and put them at their ease and have time for conversation and to pose for photographs. He had the ability to make people feel good about themselves and to be proud to be MacLeods. At Dunvegan he would always find time to meet MacLeods, whether they were members of Clan Societies or not.

Without fail, Chief John attended the twice yearly meetings of the Associated Clan MacLeod Societies and always gave wise council. He regularly attended the Annual Dinners of the Clan MacLeod Societies of England and Scotland.

In 1977, Chief John said that he was not surprised that people living in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand should feel some attachment to a place that they had never seen. He felt that there is an ?unconscious desire which animates all human contact, and which Clan MacLeod is in a particularly position to satisfy. In this case the contact is not simply from person to person, but from person to place. This need for contact with the place is fundamentally important for the Clan MacLeod today, and is infinitely worth fostering.?

?I believe that the Clan will find a way to become more involved with its geographical roots and that will be a great thing for both the roots and the Clan.?

?The individual responsibity that I have to everyone amongst whom I live, is something that exists in every single one of us. As far as being a clan chief, then that responsibility is perhaps heightened and made more apparent.?

?I believe that the Clan has an entity, an existence, independent of whoever might happen to be Chief ? whether the Chief is a good one or a famous one or a young one. The Clan exists because of genuine feelings cherished by thousands of dispersed Scots throughout the world for their Clan, their family and the place from which that family came ? the lone shieling of poetry and song. I respect those feelings utterly, and will always attempt to do whatever is appropriate to foster them.?

But above all, Chief John was concerned about the stewardship of land. ?Land is held in trust. The people who live on the land hold it in trust; the people who work on it hold it in trust, and it is held in trust for every living animal in the world.?

On the MacLeod Estate ?I share the responsibility with three farmers; 120 crofters and the whole community.?

In 2005 Chief John added that his father had believed that ?if anyone found him or herself with responsibility for land, he/she should always remember that they were only a link in a chain. One important point is that land goes on for ever, and one is there to serve it.?

Chief John concluded that ?in human terms, it has been a most enriching experience to serve my clan as chief, and a privilege indeed to be recognised as such. I trust my successor will experience the same riches and I see no reason why they should not. I have no doubt that the future of Clan MacLeod is bright as it faces the immense changes of the 21st Century.?

Obituaries for Chief John appeared in The Scotsman, Herald, Press and Journal; Times, Daily Telegraph and Guardian and reports in other papers.

Clan MacLeod Society of Scotland Dinner, Saturday 17th February 2007.

Despite the sudden death of Chief John, in the earlier part of the week, it was decided to go ahead with the Annual Dinner of the Clan Macleod Society of Scotland, at the Royal Scots Club, Abercrombie Place, Edinburgh.

Ruari Halford-MacLed, President of the Society welcomed 50 folk to the dinner and the Rev Rory MacLeod, Suardal, gave an address. After a moment?s silence, Rev Rory gave a prayer and the grace before meat.

After the meal, the President spoke about Chief John and proposed a toast to John MacLeod of MacLeod, 29th Chief. Chief John?s nephew, Charles Wolrige Gordon of Hallhead and Esslemont replied movingly, conveying the thanks of the family for all the words and letters of sympathy sent to Ulrika, Hugh, Elena and Stefan.

Euan MacCrimmon then played that stirring piobaireachd ?MacLeod?s Salute? written by Donald MacCrimmon in 1603.

There were then tributes from Dr Malcolm Macleod, President of ACMS; Bill MacLeod, for the US Society and Rebecca McLeod for the New Zealand Society.

Calum and Euan Zuchart then played a lively set on the fiddle.

There were further tributes from Leonard, President of the South African Society; Dr Malcolm Macleod for the English Society and George Cooke, of the Talisker family, for the Australian Societies and them some fiddle music.

More tributes were paid by Carolyn MacLeod, for the Canadian Societies; Leonard MacLeod, for the French Society and Albrecht Kurbjuhn, President of the German Society.

In conclusion Emma Halford-MacLeod, co-editor of the Clan MacLeod Magazine proposed the first toast to Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, 30th Chief and Nancy MacLeod Nicol, Past President of the Society, gave a vote of thanks.


March 2007